Liberty, Equality and Protest and of course Happy New Year from Hever Translations
The countdown is over and 2019 is here! We wish everyone a wonderful year chock full of liberty, equality and fraternity. In the same spirit, we will talk about France, one of the most important countries in the world that has been in the news in recent weeks, and not for the usual reasons (romantic Paris, sports achievements, vacation on the Riviera and political scandals). The “yellow vest” protest – a sign of social awakening – may lead to a global wave of protest, and may be very relevant for us in Israel and for other countries.
Let’s take a brief tour of France – customs, culture, and social dissent in its history.
6 facts you may not know about France and French customs
If a Frenchman finds a reason to compliment you, don’t hurry to pull out the merci you practiced so diligently to thank him – you will be considered both arrogant and rude. Instead say: “not really, you’re too nice”.
On public transportation there is a clear rule about opening a window – if there is disagreement the default is to leave the window closed.
If you plan to bring flowers while in France, notice what you buy. Make sure to buy an odd number of flowers, but not 13 which brings bad luck, and don’t bring chrysanthemums that are reserved for funerals..
OK, this one is a bit strange – if you can provide compelling evidence that a deceased person intended to marry you, you can still marry him or her. Posthumous matrimony is possible.
Paternity testing is prohibited in France in order to “preserve peace within families”, unless a judge rules otherwise.
Charles de Gaulle, the past President of France, had 32 lives – he survived 32 assassination attempts.
The History of Revolutions
1775 – The Flour War began after the price of grain increased, followed by higher bread prices. The riots subsided after wheat price controls were imposed. This was a prelude to the French Revolution which erupted 13 years later.
1789-1799 – The French Revolution altered the course of modern history and abolished the class system that governed society up until them.
1910-1911 – The Champagne Riots were the culmination of a series of problems, among them years of crop losses and a belief that merchants of wine were using grapes that did not come from the Champaign region of France. Farmers looted warehouses, smashed bottles and threw barrels of wine into the river.
1968 – The student revolt that led to a general strike of 10 million workers and sent students into the streets. The street riots were so violent that de Gaulle fled France for several hours and sought political asylum in Germany for fear he would be assassinated.
1981 – Rodéo riots aimed at calling attention to weak groups in society. These riots consisted of stealing cars, driving them in tight circles, and ultimately burning them. Cars were stolen from more prosperous areas, and taken to poor neighborhoods where they were burned in order to lure police to those areas for street battles.
Tip from Hever
Democracy and Shared Thinking
Democracy and openness to new ideas are not only vital for social equilibrium (speaking about France…), they also foster productive communication in organizations and groups, which in turn leads to innovation, commitment to the organization and improved performance.
So how do we foster a democratic culture in organizations and groups:
A. The manager speaks last – if the manager speaks first others may refrain from expressing a different opinion. To ensure that different ideas and perspectives are heard the manager should speak last.
B. The agile organization – small heterogeneous groups comprised of employees from different departments that fill different positions increase the chances that multiple perspectives and opinions will be heard and considered.
C. A focus on group success – when the group’s success is viewed as everyone’s success, group cooperation increases while ego clashes and employees seeking individual credit are diminished.